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Sully Movie Review

Sully: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art
Sully is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo.

Sully (2016) movie poster Sully

Theatrical Release: September 9, 2016 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Clint Eastwood / Writers: Todd Komarnicki (screenplay); Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow (book Highest Duty)

Cast: Tom Hanks (Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger), Aaron Eckhart (Jeff Skiles), Laura Linney (Lorrie Sullenberger), Mike O'Malley (Charles Porter), Anna Gunn (Elizabeth Davis), Jamey Sheridan (Ben Edwards), Chris Bauer (Larry Rooney), Sam Huntington (Jeff Kolodjay), Max Adler (Jimmy Stefanik), Christopher Curry (Rob Kolodjay), Valerie Mahaffey (Diane Higgins), Delphi Harrington (Lucille Palmer), Molly Hagan (Doreen Welsh), Autumn Reeser (Passenger with Baby), Patch Darragh (Patrick Harten), Holt McCallany (Mike Cleary), Michael Rappaport (Bartender - Pete), Jerry Ferrara (Michael Delaney), Katie Couric (Herself), Bobby Cuza (Himself)

Buy Sully from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Instant Video

Clint Eastwood has not been nominated for a directing Oscar since 2006's Letters from Iwo Jima. Tom Hanks has not been nominated for an Oscar since 2000's Cast Away.
And yet, these two giants of industry collaborating for the first time to tell the true story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger's heroics make Sully feel like the start of 2016's award season, right on time following the Telluride Film Festival, where this premiered last week.

Sullenberger's unprecedented January 2009 emergency forced landing of a US Airways flight on the Hudson River with all 155 passengers alive and virtually unscathed made for the rare feel-good story involving modern aviation. In another time, the incident may have lent to a TV movie of the week. But in this case, Sullenberger's best-selling book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow, has been adapted by Perfect Stranger scribe Todd Komarnicki and turned into a mid-budgeted action drama with two of Hollywood's all-time biggest names and, by extension, plenty of commercial potential attached.

Despite the title, Sully is no biopic. While it gives us two brief scenes of a younger Sullenberger being introduced to flight, it is fully aware that it is one unusual incident that makes us fascinated with its hero. As the film repeatedly states, that incident, dubbed the Miracle on the Hudson by the media, lasted a mere 208 seconds. How do you stretch such a brief encounter to feature length? Eastwood and Komarnicki figured that out. They open with the action you expect: the low-flying plane above New York City, dodging buildings until it cannot. Not the way you remember it? It's a nightmare and one that Captain Sullenberger (Hanks in his first white-haired role) is understandably plagued with following his once-in-a-lifetime flight.

Clint Eastwood's "Sully" stars Tom Hanks as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who landed a US Airways plane on the Hudson River.

The film gives us a good look at that fateful Flight 1549: Sully and first officer Jeff Skiles (an even more fully mustachioed Aaron Eckhart) making small talk in the cockpit, the plane's engines being struck by a flock of birds, passengers being told to brace for impact by visibly shaken flight attendants. When it isn't returning to that flight (from various angles, including an air traffic controller's perspective) and the lead-up to it (passengers' airport experiences), the film dramatizes what Sully and, to a lesser degree, Skiles are going through in the wake of their harrowing maneuvers. There is media fervor and, more distressingly to our protagonist, there is a full investigation by the National Transportation Security Board to determine what went wrong and whether or not Sully made the right decision to attempt the dangerous water landing rather than try to either return to LaGuardia or land on the runway of New Jersey's nearby Teterboro Airport.

Even with everyone onboard surviving, Sully questions whether his gut reaction decision was the right one, feeling the weight of scrutiny as the lawyers and insurance people try to surmise what role human error might have played in the episode that the city, nation, and world are quick to laud as sheer and uncommon heroism.

Sully kind of bristles at that hero label, not being familiar or comfortable with the attention, the widespread TV coverage, and the random hugs and kisses. He's a quiet, hard worker, who has been flying planes for 42 years. Hanks injects the role with understated humanity, having our sympathy and support from start to finish. We don't know what he's going through, but we can still relate, as his actions are put under the microscope and undermined by computer and human-piloted simulations.

Captain Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) have to answer for their actions on that fateful winter morning flight.

This is not the kind of film Eastwood has gravitated to in the past, his directorial tastes being more towards dark tales of redemption. Perhaps the tremendous success of his last film, American Sniper,
has led the 86-year-old legend's heart to a deeper appreciation of heroism while acknowledging the demons that come with the territory. Sully is thought-provoking and engaging, elevating what might just be a corny true life disaster movie into something substantial and resonant.

Running just 96 minutes, Sully must be Eastwood's shortest film to date, but the length suits the story well. Surrounding Hanks' nomination-worthy turn are a number of veterans hitting the needed notes in limited opportunities, from Eckhart to Laura Linney as Sully's wife to Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, and Jamey Sheridan as the investigation team leads to Michael Rappaport as a star-struck bartender.

It isn't always easy to dramatize a recent, well-known real life event, but Sully does about as an excellent job as anyone could hope for.

Buy Sully from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Reviewed September 9, 2016.



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